by Heath Holland
This year, for the first time ever, I’m attempting to program my own scary movie marathon. Oh, I always watch tons and tons of movies; my Scary Movie Months of years past have always consisted of me plopping a gigantic stack of DVDs or Blu-rays down by the television and seeing where they took me throughout the month, and that’s pretty much how this year has gone as well. I have a vague outline of things that I want to watch during the month, and I usually try to mix old favorites in with new discoveries. However, I have never deliberately set out to program an entire day’s worth of content down to the minute with the specific goal of having the best Halloween Day Movie Marathon as possible.
That’s all about to change. I’ve been inspired by the 24 hour marathons that Patrick puts together around different themes, and I’ve really started to wonder why I’ve never taken the time to actually do this myself. It helps that Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, so I don’t have to go to work, run any errands, or deal with the junk that comes with being a grown up during the week. At the same time, I recognize that I don’t (yet) have the stamina for a full 24 hours of movies (because I’m old) and that if I try to over-extend myself, I WILL fall asleep, thus RUINING HALLOWEEN. Werewolves, vampires, and axe-murdering psychos may not pose a real threat, but falling asleep in the middle of my marathon sure does. So with that in mind, I’m imposing a few regulations upon myself to make sure that the day will be full of hits and achieve the desired effect I’m going for. Halloween day is not the time to be taking chances on movies I haven’t seen or that I feel like I need to reevaluate; it’s a day for favorites, with the ultimate goal of having the best day possible and ending Scary Movie Month on a massive high note. This is the culmination of an entire month’s worth of horror, and it needs to be programmed with wall-to-wall successes. Maybe my movie selections are a bit on the nose, but I’m not taking any chances. No, not this time…maybe never again…Here’s what I’ll be watching for my first ever Scary Movie Marathon.
9:00 am to 10:10 - Frankenstein (1931, dir. James Whale)
I’ve been saving the best Universal Monster movies for the end of the month because I love them and because nothing says Halloween like Frankenstein. Well, I guess there’s candy. And pumpkins. And Oktoberfest beer. Okay, lots of things say Halloween like Boris Karloff, but he’s at the top of the list. Because of the age of Frankenstein, it has a soothing pace and sound design that I know will play really well in the morning hours. I’m hinging a lot on the hope that Frankenstein and my morning coffee are made for each other. Also, Frankenstein and Coffee should be a morning talk show. Maybe on the Chiller Channel? “When we come back from the break, we’ll be looking at how to grill kabobs over a fire. Wait, fire? FIRE BAD!!!!”
How do you top Frankenstein? With James Whale’s slightly-superior sequel, that’s how. I’m starting this one immediately after Frankenstein, and I don’t see a problem with placing these two films back to back. They’re both so short that together they total the running time of many modern films, and besides, I can’t watch one without the other.
12:00 to 1:47 - An American Werewolf in London (1981, dir. John Landis)
After a short break to grab some lunch and plunk back down in front of the TV, it’s time to kick things up a notch with something a little more modern. I watch this movie most every single October, so I’m incorporating it into my festivities again this year. It’s comforting, in the way that sad stories about people going to Europe and contracting a deadly disease almost always are. But really, this is one of my favorite horror films because of the sharp, funny script and because I just really love werewolves. There are other great werewolf flicks to choose from (Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf is always a strong contender for me, and so is Dog Soldiers), but this one fits just right in this time of the day and the mood I’m going for.
2:00 to 3:33 - They Live (1988, dir. John Carpenter)
John Carpenter is synonymous with Halloween (the day and the movie), and I couldn’t very well make it through the day without something he directed. Because I’ve already watched a bunch of the Halloween films this month, I wanted to throw in something that was different (and also more outright fun) for this time slot. I’ve also still not properly dealt with the loss of Rowdy Roddy Piper, one of my all-time favorite wrestlers, actors, and people to who have walked this planet, so I’m hoping that They Live will be an uplifting and fun celebration of his legacy and not a gigantic bummer.
The late afternoon is a time to catch your breath, make arrangements for dinner, and gather your wits before the night really gets going. It’s a perfect space for something from Hammer Films, and I’m choosing this less-known fright flick starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, who get to step outside their well-worn roles of Dracula and Van Helsing. Here they are men of science and learning attempting to rid their town of a vicious Gorgon. Doctor Who fans like me are sure to enjoy seeing Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor, in a supporting role. It’s going to be tough to watch a movie about a Gorgon without actually looking at the screen, though. Because, stone.
5:15 to 6:54 - Shaun of the Dead (2004, dir. Edgar Wright)
This is a movie that starts light and gets crazier and darker as it goes, so I thought it would be a nice film to transition from the daytime to the night time. During the course of this movie the sun will set, and by the time the credits roll, it’s Halloween night. The little ghouls and goblins will be ringing the doorbell asking for tricks or treats, and I think Shaun of the Dead marks a phenomenal start to Halloween night. Let’s Boo Boo. Wrong movie.
7:10 to 8:32 - Trick ‘r Treat (2007, dir. Michael Dougherty)
Is there a better movie to have playing while people you don’t know are coming to the door than the movie Trick ‘r Treat? I say there is not. It’s a modern horror classic that takes place on Halloween night, and the events in the movie could very well be similar to the events happening in your town…in your neighborhood…on your block. I’ve added some extra time between this movie and the next one to allow for multiple pauses, since this is when the trick or treating is at its heaviest. I hope this movie doesn’t scare any of the kids coming to the door. A few years ago, I grossly misjudged how much of our television could be seen from the front porch, and we were watching Halloween at about 7 in the evening. The doorbell stopped ringing conspicuously early.
9:00 to 10:35 - The Cabin in the Woods (2012, dir. Drew Goddard)
In a lot of ways, this movie (written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard) is the ultimate horror movie. It has so much to say that it almost serves as the final word on the genre. Then again, that’s ridiculous because there can never ever be a final word in horror (unless it’s “FIN,” or perhaps “ARGH!”). But if you’ve seen it, then you know what I’m trying to say. It’s everything many of us horror fans love, and manages to both comment on a thing and be that thing at the same time. In short, it’s pretty amazing, and this is how I want to start winding down my night.
In a perfect world, I’d have this one starting at midnight, but the fact is that I’m old (as previously stated) and I can say with a fair measure of certainty that I will not be awake at 2 a.m. on November 1st. To be honest, there’s a pretty big chance that I’ll be watching this one all by myself, since my wife is the real Sleepy Holland, and might not have even made it through the previous movie. Hey, she might wake up and ask if The Gorgon is over and what she missed. Nevertheless, where do you go after Cabin in the Woods? I can’t imagine trying to follow it with another outright horror movie (though I’m sure you could), so I’m not even going to try. You MIGHT could pull off It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in an attempt to calm your frazzled nerves, but I have my doubts. Instead, I’m going full-on camp with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This will be my last horror movie for the month (though it technically ends on the first) and it just feels right to me. Bring your rice and toilet paper—listen, you can vacuum on Sunday--and do The Time Warp as the witching hour tolls and the creepy crawlies from the other side of the veil run wild outside your window.
Well, that’s the schedule for my first ever programmed Scary Movie Marathon. Is there a movie that you would have included that I didn’t? That I did include and shouldn’t have? Hey, while I’m asking questions, what are you doing on Saturday? Do you have a movie marathon planned, or maybe a huge Halloween party? Does this look infected? Tell us all about your plans for All Hallows Eve in the comments below!